Don’t try to be superwoman: that’s the lesson of the weekend.
I had grand plans of trying to make it back to Oneida for the 11 am service at my church after attending the early service at my brother’s church. I probably could have made it fashionably late if I had been cautious and smart. Instead I was on the side of the road with a defunct car, a policeman, an ambulance, my brother and his girlfriend, and many tears at 11 am on Sunday.
God had his hand on the entire situation though and still does. I wasn’t hurt, and I didn’t hit the car coming towards me. I only spun and hit the ditch a couple of times before I ended up back on the road with a busted tire and quite a bit of damage to the car. Roxie (my car) has been treated kinder, but God used her to shield me from any physical damage.
When I was in high school, I wrote a poem about slowing down. Metaphorically I was speaking of slowing down to enjoy life, but in light of this past weekend, I think slowing down while driving is a good idea as well. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry to be superwoman and fly back to Oneida (good intentions and all), I wouldn’t be driving a rental minivan right now and worrying about Roxie. One lesson I’ve learned is to not rush. If I can’t be part of everything, so be it. God has a plan for each location I’ll be. While I write that last sentence though, I also realize that God has a plan for my accident as well.
It’s hard to say yet what good will come of my accident, but I know God has a plan to take even this unwanted situation and bring glory to his name. Already he’s provided for me through many concerned people and a good insurance company, so I have no doubt he has a plan. For now, I’ll wait on the prognosis, and in the meantime I’ll take life a little slower.
Most of all praise be to God that I am safe and that no one else was involved.
On this morning of the completion of my 25th birthday, I would like to make a list of 25 things for which I am thankful God has given me.
- A God who shows clemency
- The promise of Heaven
- A family that supports and loves
- Friends who are real when needed and spoil me when needed.
- Churches who help me grow closer to God
- A cat who adores me
- A job that encourages my faith
- Students who push me to be better
- Books that entertain me
- A healthy body
- Tea to warm me to my toes
- A shelter from the world
- An always full belly
- Clean water
- Electricity (I am blessed)
- Blankets (I really hate being cold)
- A car that runs (most of the time)
- Clothes appropriate for every season
- A conscience
- Past mistakes and diversions from more fatal mistakes
- Numerous Bibles
- An intelligent mind
- 25 years of life
Eleven years ago I began a relationship with Jesus. Besides relationships with my family it’s far surpassed the time I’ve invested in any other relationship. It’s also been far more rewarding and satisfying than any friendship, kinship, or romance I’ve ever had. I’ve been in a relationship with Jesus for almost half of my life. I’ve learned about love and forgiveness and grace and discipline. He’s taught me (still teaching me) how to speak and interact with people and when to be silent. He reminds me that I’m loved and worthy of love by giving me rainbows and butterflies and sunsets even when it feels like no one in this world notices me. I’m blessed to say I’m a daughter, friend, and follower of God. I’m excited to see where God will lead me and what he’ll teach me in the coming years, and even more I’m excited to see him in heaven.
Read my spiritual story here.
At the beginning of this year, I started a project that has proven to be extremely good for my relationship with God. A friend encouraged me to create a jar of blessings, but since I didn’t have a jar handy, I created a box of blessings.
Each time something good happens to me, I write it on a slip of paper and place it in the box. I plan to read the blessings at the end of the year to reflect on how God has worked in my life this year. Sometimes, the blessings are little, such as a pretty flower, but they can also be answered prayers, such as a successful day. When I read them, I may not remember why this blessing was so good, but I can marvel at the number of recorded blessings that He gave me.
In the meantime, this box is bringing me closer to God. I find myself thanking God more throughout the day. I don’t always remember to write them down at the end of the day, but I do remember to thank God during the day. This is helping me maintain that constant conversation with Him and improving my mood.
I encourage each of you to try recording your blessings somehow. You can use a box, a jar, a journal, or any other method that suits you. Most importantly, remember to thank God each time you receive a blessing, no matter the size. Let’s see how we can become more thankful this year.
About a week ago, I prayed “God if this is going to be a good day, please let me find a four leaf clover.” That day continued without finding a four leaf clover. I’ve been searching for a four-leaf clover since earlier this summer. Every time I start searching, someone else found one and I got frustrated and gave up.
Today I walked out of school to get in my car and go home, but my car wouldn’t start. Mind you this happened just a week ago when I discovered that my brake lights were staying on after I turned off the car. I was stuck at school in another town when I really just wanted to get back to my dorm. I called my best friend with tears. I thought it was my brake light again. So I got the band director to jump my car and I called the mechanic. Wiping away tears I headed back toward college. Before I got out of the parking lot I realized that my headlights were still turned on. Oh bummer. It wasn’t my brake lights this time; it was my own stupidity. I humbled myself and called the mechanic back.
Lo and behold when I got out of my car at college, I found a four leaf clover. I almost cried again. God was sending me a sign that it’s all gonna be okay. In Captivating, Stasi Eldredge talks about how God sends us chocolate and flowers in the form of sunsets and beautiful trees sometimes. Today God sent me some chocolate in the form of a four leaf clover.
Wow! It’s been a while. I’ve been at camp, though, where I pour all of my thoughts and emotions into the teenage girls with whom I’ve been working. They’re a hoot by the way. So far, we’ve discussed faith, guys, spiritual gifts, testimonies, Esther, and quite a bit more that I can’t recollect right now. I’ve had some amazing discussions with them individually and as a group. Even though I haven’t personally been able to see anyone actually make the decision to accept Christ I know God is moving through the camp. I’ve heard about many decisions from the younger campers and I’ve seen God light up in my girls.
A particularly precious moment happened during week three. I had been talking with one particular girl quite a bit about her home life during that week and the previous life. She didn’t understand how God could allow her to live in this home where it’s not happy. There was divorce and unfair treatment. She felt like her mother did not care about her as much as she cared about other things or people. This teen girl asked me the hard questions, such as “why does God allow bad things to happen?” For her situation, I could not give an answer. My heart hurt for her. She wanted to follow Jesus and be her happy self, but she wasn’t seeing any encouragement to do that from the people that matter most- her family.
That week we were studying Esther during our cabin devotion time. It felt a bit cliche to study Esther with a group of girls but it was week three and I needed a topic that I didn’t require much planning on my part (I was also teaching campfires about Peter’s life this week). I knew that we could read Esther together and discuss without much early preparation on my part. It sounds horrible, but I needed something easy. Surprisingly (unsurprisingly?) God moved through that week’s devotions more than some other weeks. (Probably because I stepped back and stopped trying to plan every detail). The girls were attentive and eager to talk about Esther’s life and even found connections to their own life. It was on Tuesday when we reached chapter 4. The night before, this particular girl and I had stayed up fairly late talking about her life and how maybe God had placed her in this house to be his only light. She knew it would be hard but she wanted to God’s light to her family. As we were reading Esther chapter 4 I wrote the end of verse 14 down and handed it to her. “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” She looked at it and went back to reading. Nothing big but I prayed God would use that verse to give her encouragement.
The week went on and we finally came to the last day, which meant saying good-bye to some of my girls for possibly forever. When it came time for this girl to leave, we hugged and she said again that she didn’t really want to leave but she knew she had to leave. Then she looked at me and quoted verse 14. It warmed my heart. I know I can’t expect to always see the results from when I try to encourage people, but when God does allow me to see I am thankful. I wasn’t sure that anything I had said would stick with this girl and give her encouragement, but she got this part at least. She believes that she is placed in this particular situation for a reason, for God’s reason. It was hard to let some of my girls go because I knew they were not going home to God-nurturing homes, but I can only pray that God sends more people in their path to disciple and encourage them in their walk.
Jesus is awesome!
“We rejoice in our hope, not in our circumstances.” -Matt Chandler
This reminds me of a devotional I read this week about 1 Thessalonians 5:18. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for those of you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Hard circumstances, filled with pain and confusion, can be difficult to find joy in. Just two verses before this, Paul advises us to”always be joyful.” Maybe it’s just me but when I feel tired, hurt, confused, or overwhelmed, it’s hard to be joyful, much less to be thankful. Surely Paul is not asking us to be thankful for the difficult and painful situations.
In order to understand this verse a bit better, look at my favorite part of speech: the preposition. Pay careful attention to Paul’s choice of the preposition “in.” He doesn’t use the word “about.” Paul is saying to be thankful in all circumstances. So when the world seems cruel, find something to be thankful about and you’ll be following this advice. You don’t have to be thankful for the circumstance (although I have found that trying to be thankful for a circumstance can often help me see why God has placed me in that situation).
That brings me back to the quote from Matt Chandler. There is always hope to be thankful for. Know that God has a perfect plan for each life. There’s a reason for every situation, and God’s reason is always for the best. God wants us to be happy, but sometimes that means we have to go through hard times in order to learn more about him. Knowing more about God is happiness, so if hard circumstances bring that, bring it on. I can be thankful for hard times if I look at them with eyes of hope. So remember, be thankful and take joy in the hope that God works through every situation.